Mank (2020)

1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane. (Letterboxd)
Don’t know what everyone’s babbling about half the time but it’s able to coast on its sharp editing and performances in the dia(not mono)logue scenes (see the excellent back and forth at the b-day party). Mank’s journey through the shifty politics of movie studios in the 30s is much more interesting than the process of his screen-written response to it later though (especially when the connections aren’t always clear), so the film would’ve done better to just make the flashbacks the whole movie.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Zodiac (2007)

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree. (IMDb)
Too long? Nah, could’ve used another hour-I mean, that’s how long I spent googling the Zodiac afterwards anyways. It’s that sort of mystery–complex, endless, with countless players and procedures to dissect, and the film with its excellent technique, turns, and script (the time jumps feel natural; the third-act lens shift to Graysmith works well; Avery’s arc feels like it’s cut short though) captures it all with a remarkable sense of cohesion (a couple loose threads along the way) and momentum.
8/10 (Great)

Alien³ (1992)

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After her last encounter, Ripley crash-lands on Fiorina Fury 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, Ripley realizes that she brought along an unwelcome visitor. (IMDb)
The story and characters leave something to be desired (aside from Ripley only Clemons really gets developed and his arc is cut short), but the dark and brooding atmosphere is incredible, thanks to the sinister and suffocating prison setting, discomforting sound and camera work (see the brilliant autopsy/alien birth montage), and tense mix of religious and foul language dispersed throughout. A bold ending makes up for the confusing final action sequence, though it’s marred by some bad CGI.
7.5/10 (Really Good)